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Fungal Diseases of Nonhuman Primates


Terri Parrott

, DVM, St. Charles Veterinary Hospital

Last full review/revision Jan 2020 | Content last modified Feb 2020

Microsporum spp and Trichophyton spp rarely infect institutional nonhuman primates. In clinical practice with privately owned nonhuman primates, it is more common. Topical treatment of ringworm with undecylenic acid ointment or 1% tolnaftate cream, twice daily for 2–3 weeks, may help, but nonhuman primates often orally remove any topical medications, making treatment ineffective.

Administration of griseofulvin at 20 mg/kg/day, PO; ketoconazole at 5–10 mg/kg, PO, twice daily for 30 days; or fluconazole at 2–3 mg/kg/day, PO, for 30 days is also very effective.

Candida spp are common saprophytes of the skin, GI tract, and reproductive tract; they act as facultative pathogens in debilitated nonhuman primates. Ulcers or white, raised plaques may be seen on the tongue or mouth; the fungus may also attack fingernails. Oral lesions must be differentiated from those of trauma, monkeypox, or herpesvirus infections. A topical cream containing nystatin is effective in superficial infections. Oral nystatin (200,000 U, four times daily, continued for 48 hours after clinical recovery) is effective for candidiasis of the GI tract.

Dermatophilus congolensis infection has been reported in owl monkeys. Papillomatous lesions are seen on the face and extremities. The infection is transmissible to people.

Aspergillosis may develop in various nonhuman primate species, and the organism usually is a facultative pathogen in immunocompromised hosts. Treatment with voriconazole or terbinafine is empirical. In endemic regions of the western and southwestern USA, Coccidioides immitis has been associated with fungal pneumonia and disseminated mycosis (“valley fever”) in monkeys and apes after exposure to airborne spores of this soil fungus.

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